Shamrock Rovers are still looking for their first Europa League points and they will give everything to end the European campaign on a high. Tottenham, on the other hand, need a big win in Ireland as well as PAOK to beat Rubin, as that is the only way how they can make it to the next round.
Five out of five
The semi-professional side from Ireland entered the Champions League qualifying stages and after eliminating Estonian side Flora, they lost both legs to Danish champions FC Kobenhavn. Shamrock then entered the Europa League play-offs, where they were pitted against Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade and despite being outplayed in both games, the Irish somehow managed to achieve a history success by making it to Europa League group stage. Shamrock were unlucky to be drawn alongside Tottenham, Rubin Kazan and PAOK, so nobody is really surprised that Rovers lost all five group games so far. The hosts are now hoping to produce an upset against Tottenham and end the campaign on a high, but that looks highly unlikely at the moment. Not only because Shamrock are way inferior to Spurs, but also because their domestic season ended some month and a half ago, and the lack of competitive action could prove to be a big problem.
Coach Michael O’Neill should have full squad to choose from and we are likely to see the same side that started the Rubin game.
Tottenham on brink of elimination
Even before the competition started, Harry Redknapp revealed that he planned on fielding weakened line-ups in Europa League games and he has stayed true to his words. The competition served as a great learning for players such as Jake Livermore, Danny Rose, Andrew Townsend, Harry Kane and Tom Carroll, while several fringe players also gained some much needed playing time. In spite of that, Tottenham had a great chance to secure their place in the next round, but home defeat to ten-man PAOK served as a big blow to their qualifying hopes. Spurs can still make it through, but, for that to happen, they need to record a big win over Shamrock, and hope that PAOK will beat Rubin. One way of another, Spurs will be going for a win here, especially as the aforementioned players will see this game as their last chance to impress the boss this season.
Harry Redknapp is again set to rest his key players, but we should still see a pretty strong Spurs line-up, with Kaboul, Sandro, Dos Santos, Defoe and Pavlyuchenko all expected to start.
Shamrock showed on numerous occasions that they don’t have enough quality to match the other sides in the group and having played just three competitive games over the last month and a half, the hosts could face additional problems. Tottenham look likely to miss out on the place in the knockout stages, but Spurs will, nevertheless, try and win this game.
Our prediction: Tottenham with -1 Asian handicap
Odds: 1.80 (4/5)